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Benefits Lost if Drug Test Is Positive

Currently, if you fail a drug test you could lose your job. A bill has been proposed in Wyoming to deny unemployment benefits to you altogether, or lose the unemployment if you fail any subsequent drug test. The law if passed will go into effect July 1, 2013. But the U. S. Secretary of Labor will not publish the exact job categories until the spring of 2013.

Representatives Mike Madden (R-Buffalo) and David Miller (R-Riverton), and Senator Ray Peterson (R-Cowley), are the sponsors of House Bill 89 (text of bill at http://legisweb.state.wy.us/2012/Bills/HB0089.pdf ). Formerly the legislature had debated drug testing persons receiving welfare. Laura Hancock of the Star-Tribune learned from Rep. Madden that “he wasn’t a big supporter of last year’s effort to require welfare recipients to be drug tested.” He went on to say: “When you get involved in that, you deal with people with children who suffer.”

Mr. Madden says of this bill: “We support the idea of denying employment benefits to those who have failed drug tests while on the job. Those who use drugs on the job endanger the safety of themselves and those they work around. Those who use drugs while on the time-clock should also lose the benefit of unemployment. Taking drugs or alcohol on the job is a willful act. And, as we’ve said before, more must be done to make Wyoming’s workplaces safer. This is a good first step.”

Until recently federal law stopped any state from allowing drug testing of people who receive unemployment benefits. But a compromise was worked out during the debate on extending the payroll tax cut and unemployment benefits to allow states to drug test people who get unemployment benefits.
While this may sound appropriate to make sure public funds are distributed to responsible persons, unemployment is a fund those who have had jobs have paid into. A portion of every paycheck is deposited into a state-run insurance program by employers and workers. It is there to help people pay their bills until they find work.

How will Wyoming pay for this program? The Billings Gazette reports estimates of nearly $1.2 million each in fiscal years 2014, 2015 and 2016. But even Rep. Madden admits, “It’s a rough estimate . . . So many of these fiscal notes are speculative in nature.” Plus the courts have struck down mandatory drug testing programs.

More and more the government wants to regulate everything you do if at any point you need access to government funds. Often you have to get a drug test to get into a job. Now you must have a drug test to retain the job. And if you lose your job through no negative actions of your own and access the funds you paid for unemployment insurance you may lose them if you test positive.

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